Welcome to our Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life, where I have the pleasure of chatting with authors across genres. Today I am pleased to welcome Daniel Cubias, and zombies.
Daniel Cubias is a writer whose award-winning fiction has been published in numerous literary journals. He is also the author of the novel “Barrio Imbroglio,” and he contributes frequently to the Huffington Post.
Daniel’s latest novel, “Zombie President,” is a black comedy about the twisted conflux of politics, journalism, and American culture.
What is your book’s genre?
Please describe what your black comedy Zombie President is about.
A defeated presidential candidate comes back from the dead to take the White House by force — and to win the country’s heart in the process.
Samuel Tilden never won the presidency when he was alive, but now that he’s a rampaging ghoul, the American people are enthralled with the power and tenacity of his undead army. Fawning media coverage ensures that the zombies’ bloody march to Washington D.C. goes unchecked. Meanwhile, an ambitious television reporter, a small-town sheriff, and a scientist with a dark secret join forces with a trio of backbiting teenagers to fight for their country.
Sounds like a intriguing, wild ride. How did you come up with the title?
Let’s just say that the title lent itself.
What inspired you to write this book?
My co-author, Kristan Ginther, asked me, “Has there every been a story about a zombie running for president?” I had to admit that, no, there had never been a story quite like that.
Does your main character resemble you?
I am not a zombie, so I’m going to say no.
Good point. What do you hope readers will gain from Zombie President?
First, my hope is that readers find it funny. But there are more than a few references to our political process, which will provoke, enlighten or infuriate the reader, depending on his/her viewpoint.
It sounds intriguing and timely.
What is your favorite part of writing?
The second draft. The tyranny of the blank page (i.e., the first draft) is behind you, and now you can concentrate on what the story is really about. Successive drafts aren’t as enjoyable because you begin seeing the flaws that eat away at your very soul.
Great description of successive drafts. I’m at that point with my second book–the eating away at my soul part–where I have to battle doubt.
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?
If you don’t rewrite a passage, it most likely is not as good as it could be. If you rewrite it too much, you most likely sap all its energy and kill whatever made it interesting in the first place. Finding that balance is crucial.
What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?
“The Langoliers” by Stephen King. I’m a big King fan, but I had missed that one. I’m very happy that I dug it out, because it has all the elements of what he does best.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Leyner, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Leyner, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King. Each possesses a unique voice, which I find inspiring.
Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?
I write in one place (at my computer) and read everywhere. So favoritism doesn’t come into it.
Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I stopped listening to the radio years ago. That’s because my phone’s music library contains almost 8,000 songs, so I just listen to that.
Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?
The writing process is a constant surprise, and not always in a good way, because every story is different. As for the publishing process, this is only my second novel, so I’m still learning, and as such, everything about it surprises me.
Daniel, looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?
My best choice was working with my co-author. She’s brilliant.
What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?
I gave myself an overly aggressive deadline. This didn’t inspire me to write faster. All it did was stress me out. So I’m going to lighten up on the self-imposed timelines in the future.
Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?
At some point in your writing career, you need third-party validation. If you’re convinced that you’re a genius, but the only people who agree with you are your spouse and your mom, you might be overestimating yourself. Get feedback from impartial readers, fellow writers, and editors. It’s the best way to learn what’s working and what’s not.
Good advice. Website and social media links?
Where can we find your book?
“Zombie President” is now available: http://amzn.to/2nzJJFG
Daniel, what’s next for you?
I’m working on the sequel to my first novel “Barrio Imbroglio.” So far I have a title, a basic plot, and the first sentence. That’s a good place to start.
Indeed it is. I wish you the best with your books and work in progress. Thanks for chatting with me today, David.
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.
A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.